(This post was written on Mother’s Day 2018, but WordPress was having issues and I couldn’t get it to post. My apologies for not getting it up on time.)
This post goes out to all the Mothas’ out there in the DOC (Diabetes Online Community). Whether they are PWDs themselves, or Mothers of children with diabetes.
Being a mother is a tough job all on it’s own then throw in a chronic condition that needs monitoring and tweaking 24/7 and Mom has just taken on another full-time job! My hat goes off to you and I stand and salute you as well.
When I was diagnosed my mother was studying to be a medical assistant. I was her study partner. I was almost 11 when I was diagnosed. I would go to school bandying words like sternocleidomastoid, sphygmomanometer and the likes. I had access to her school books and took it upon myself to read every entry in her books that pertained to diabetes. Actually, back then, there wasn’t a lot of information beyond the basics. So not only was my mother a full-time wife and mother to two children, my brother was 19 and in college, but she was also a full-time student and now the mother of a child with Type 1 diabetes.
Growing up I do not remember my mother being overtly worried about my diabetes. That isn’t saying that she wasn’t. I think I got my perspective on my condition from how she handled it. It was now my life. I was educated well through my inpatient education and summer camp. She trusted that I knew when I was in “trouble”. She never panicked. She always took things in stride. “This too shall pass”. We moved on. She always wanted to know what my results were and how I was feeling, etc, but it was always conversational and never probing or invasive. This was my condition and she was only a bystander. Only on occasion did I have her give me my insulin – in the beginning I wasn’t comfortable injecting in my butt… just couldn’t maneuver it. Lastly, I refused to inject in my abdomen. It was a game of chicken peck. My belly was her territory, if only for a year.
As a camp nurse, we did midnight rounds on every camper. I honestly cannot say if my mother ever checked my glucose while I was asleep. I know that it never happened in the first 2 years because meters did not exist for the consumer. Again, my hat goes off to those mothers who set their alarms for the 2 AM test.
Back then it was stressed that mealtimes be consistent so as to maintain a predictable schedule and keep the insulin on schedule as well. That was my mother’s responsibility. Like clock work, breakfast was always 6:30 AM during the week and 8 AM on Saturday and Sunday. Portions were measured out according to the official American Diabetes Association Dietary Exchange List. We always had fruit with dinner, usually dessert – I learned to like pear halves in pear juice without sugar. Lunches were always pretty predictable – PB& Estee sugar-free jelly (Polaner All Fruit had not been created yet.), tuna fish or ham sandwich (with lettuce), piece of fruit and a pre-measured amount of chips. If it was a bag lunch then there was always a pack or two of peanut butter and cheese crackers for snack – back then when you took NPH you needed to feed the insulin during the day. My mother was a rock star at keeping it all together and making sure I was fed on schedule – whether I wanted to eat or not. All while working a full-time job now in a busy OB-GYN office, being a wife to my father who worked a stressful job that kept at work more than 40 hours a week and keeping up the house.
My mother never let diabetes be a crutch. There was nothing I could not do (especially if I didn’t want to) – short of flying a plane, driving a big rigs, being in law enforcement or the military. Diabetes was just something that enveloped me but didn’t define me – it was just, Me. She always treated my diabetes as normal. The diet wasn’t anything special – it was plenty of calories, we already drank TAB and used Sweet-N-Low/saccharine, ate non-sugar cereals like Cheerios and Corn Flakes. the only change that we really made was using the exchange list and portion size. It was a healthy diet that my mother made everyone eat. I don’t think my brother or my father suffered any from it.
I would like to say that my mother was in my corner when things got rocky socially. I know she would have been but I never experienced the discrimination and bullying that the youth and young adults of today are experiencing. I never hid my diabetes. I was always open about it. That is not to say that I preached it, but I didn’t hide. I know had I had any issues my mother would have been there fighting hard and loud to remedy the situation.
My mother passed away a couple of years ago. I miss her everyday. I know that she took the burden of making sure everything was right for me so that I could get up in the morning and have as normal a day as the other kids on the bus. I am truly sorry that I never took the opportunity to ask her about how she felt when I was diagnosed and what stress it placed on her.
So here is your take-away: If you don’t know how your mother feels because she has never told you, ask her. Start a conversation. You may learn something whether you are 12 or 52. Then give her a big hug and a kiss and tell her you love her because you never know when the day will come that you will not be able to do that again.
Next month you will learn about my father’s involvement with my diagnosis and care.
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Until next time – Be safe and do good!
Tim (the DiabetesDude)